Big ISPs hit rock bottom in customer satisfaction survey

23 May 2013 by Steve Blum
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U.S. consumers are more dissatisfied with their Internet service providers than with any other product or service on the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.

ACSI scores overall consumer satisfaction with ISPs at 65 on its benchmark scale, just below airlines (67) and subscription TV (68). TVs/VCRs (86), cars (84) and soft drinks (84) top the list. Municipal utilities (76), wireline phones (74) and mobile services (72) fall into the middle of the pack.

Subscribers consider their service to be too expensive and unreliable, problems ACSI chalks up to a lack of competition…

High monthly costs and problems with both reliability and speed are the main culprits. Add to that a landscape that is even less competitive than subscription TV service (the satellite companies do not compete here) and there is little incentive to improve service. Dissatisfied customers have a difficult time leaving their provider for an alternative supplier. Options such as Google Fiber may eventually force current ISP providers to step up their customer service.

Internet subscribers have a long list of gripes with their providers…

According to Internet users, the ISP industry does not deliver on any aspect of customer service in a particularly impressive fashion. ISPs struggle to keep service interruptions and outages to a minimum (an industry level benchmark of 74), plus the overall reliability of service (72) is much worse than it is for other types of telecommunications services.

The numbers wouldn’t have changed much, if at all, had ACSI included satellite Internet providers in the survey. The focus was on the big ISPs. Verizon did the best with a benchmark of 71. The rest were Cox (68), AT&T Uverse (65), Charter (65), CenturyLink (64), Time Warner (63) and, at the bottom, Comcast with a 62. “Other” also scored a 71.

This ACSI survey was the first to include ISPs. That doesn’t excuse the poor showing, but it does provide a way to assess whatever improvements may come in the future.